The money you spend training customers to productively use your product can be your business’ most important investment. Educated customers are more likely to recommend you to colleagues, re-sign their contracts, and cost less to support than those with no training at all.
Despite its importance, however, training budgets — both internal and external — are often the first place executives look when trying to trim expenses. It’s hard to blame them: the results of customer training can, at times, seem intangible and hard to measure. Especially since there’s no way to ever eliminate the need for ongoing customer service and support, it can be difficult to see the value in expensive up-front training.
There’s nothing wrong with trying to lower overall spending on training, or on any other aspect of business operations. Problems arise, however, when executives don’t make informed decisions about how to lower costs –opting to just hack off pieces of a training program (cutting existing sessions, decreasing staff) rather than revise and re-envision the entire end-to-end training process.
Remembering Both Types of Costs
Any training program – internal, external, or enterprise – is comprised of both creation costs and ongoing maintenance costs. If an executive thinks his company’s current program is too expensive, he’s going to immediately focus on ongoing costs: staffing and salaries, travel (for onsite training), technology licensing fees, subscriptions, and all other resources.
If those expenses add up to a mammoth amount, the knee-jerk reaction of any exec is to just make spending in each category smaller. By doing so, he or she avoids incurring the other type of cost – creation costs – which he already laid out when launching the existing training program. The result of such across-board-cutting, however, is usually a scaled-down training program with a lot of holes in it.
The approach ultimately puts your customers at a disadvantage. The smart way to lower costs isn’t to amputate pieces of your existing program without replacing them – it’s to start back from scratch with a more manageable budget in mind.
Creating a Sustainable Program
Traditional training methods are expensive: onsite training sessions require travel and printed training materials; synchronous online trainings require add-on technology services, like WebEx, and suck up valuable time from your employees. All of those factors add up to a high-cost training program with little scalability. (And if you boost your prices to make up for the costs, you’re likely to lose new business.)
A modern online learning platform can enable you lower costs without losing quality. Switching to a cloud-based system where you can build courses and integrate them with your product through single sign-on capabilities helps you make training content more accessible, engaging, and up-to-date.
While this may require an upfront investment, it will result in fewer ongoing costs in the long run, due to lower licensing fees than traditional learning management systems and less emphasis on onsite and synchronous training. The key is to set a realistic budget from the start and work with a technology provider who can help you craft a program to meet your needs.
When your customers can access your learning content on-demand, on their own schedules, they’re also more likely to consume your content and move through it at the pace that feels right for them (rather than the pace your company feels is right for whole groups at a time). Ultimately, customers’ enhanced comfort level with your product can lower customer service costs in the long run.
Best of all, today’s top e-learning systems come complete with reporting tools to help you measure customer usage, progress, and engagement with training content, so you can more easily track the value of your training efforts, rather than just focus on expenses. So instead of making cuts from your current approach, click here to learn about leveraging the benefits of a lower-cost, higher-value customer training program.